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Poverty in the State of Washington

A legislative-executive website with loads of information defining poverty, its cause and solutions is: https://www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/health-care-human-services/poverty-reduction-work-group/prwg-resources  

A poverty simulation game: http://playspent.org/

Poverty in the Northwest Slides

Housing

Much of the money budgeted by Washington state for low-income housing is invested or spent by the Housing Trust Fund —https://www.commerce.wa.gov/building-infrastructure/housing/housing-trust-fund/– which is part of the State Department of Commerce.

Projects supported by the Housing Trust Fund include:

Crossroads Housing in Shelton http://www.crossroads-housing.net/menu

Sidewalk in Olympia https://www.walkthurston.org/

Additional Information about Low-Income Housing support can be found in the January 2019 draft minutes of the Thurston County Housing Action Team at https://www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/thrives/pdfs/aHAT010919.pdf

Income

TANF – Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (background: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32760.pdf

Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) grants were cut during the last recession (in 2008). In 1996 TANF grants provided a family of three with $562/month. Today an eligible family of three receives $50 less: $512/month in dollars not adjusted for inflation.

Quaker Voice has over the years support restoring the buying power of TANF grants to 1996 levels; providing and defending funding for educational support; and maintaining the Medicaid waiver that provides health insurance to anyone with an income of less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, help that is vital to people served by the Housing and Essential Needs and Aged. Blind, and Disabled programs.

Taxes

Washington has the most regressive tax structure in the nation. Despite the recovery of our state economy, tax income is insufficient to fully fund the social safety net those who cannot work need to prepare for work or survive without becoming homeless. Additional revenue is also needed to make sure all our children receive the education they need to remain fully employed in tomorrow’s job market.

If wealthy Washingtonians paid the same tax rate that the poorest people in our state currently, we would have a budgetary surplus. It isn’t fair that people with higher incomes pay taxes at a lower rate. We need to develop an equitable tax structure that fully funds our state’s safety net programs and pays for everyone’s education.

The Washington State Budget and Policy Center provides excellent analysis of these issues, at https://budgetandpolicy.org/policy-priorities/state-budget-revenue/, including connections to racial disparities and the Working Families Tax Credit.

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